Writer / Joyce Long – Photographer / Ron Stiemert
First, there’s Thanksgiving, then Black Friday and immediately Small Business Saturday. Christmas shopping blitz weekend is in full swing by the end of November. But don’t forget to add Delta Theta Tau’s 41st annual Artisan Holiday Market at Beech Grove High School to your calendar: Saturday, November 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The philanthropic sorority’s only fundraiser features over 130 vendors and averages over 1,000 visitors each year. “We actually started the craft fair in 1975 before there were craft fairs. It started out and has remained focused on items that are artisan hand-crafted. This has always been a juried show,” said Karen Lackey, a charter member since 1973.
This year’s chairperson Carolyn Mathauer has enjoyed either chairing or serving on this fundraising committee since 1976. “It’s really a two-day project with set-up beginning Friday when we mark the floors. Because of the craft fair, last year we raised $15,000 for philanthropic purposes,” said Mathauer. The sorority’s 22 active members also make food items to sell Friday. Some years, it’s caramel corn. This year, it will be cheese spread.
Those They Serve
According to Lackey, the sorority gave money to several food pantries in Johnson County as well as Hunger, Inc., Fletcher Place and Shepherd Community. She also noted philanthropic needs come through the membership. “Most of our group have servants’ hearts, and it’s a way for us to be a part of our communities,” said Lackey.
With a heart for education, the sorority has adopted Indianapolis Public Schools Eleanor Skillen Elementary 34, located in southeastern Center Township. The Delts donate money for school uniforms and supplies and collect canned food for students’ families. In years past, they have bought hearing aids for Perry Township’s Rise Learning Center students.
Members Shirley Green, Dorothy Weaver and Marylynne Winslow are the sorority’s liaisons for Better Indy Babies (BIBS, betterindybabies.org). Many of the members help stock the BIBS Pantry at University Heights United Methodist Church near the University of Indianapolis. Diapers, onesies, sleepers, baby wipes, maternity clothes and hygiene kits are some of the donated items.
A home economist by vocation, Lackey also enjoys making baby quilts for the first-time mothers. “Everyone has their special thing they like to do or have time to do. It’s just a good thing to belong to an organization like this,” said Lackey. From December 2015 through February 2016, the chapter donated 48 baby quilts to BIBS.
Other organizations that the sorority often helps include Canine Companions for Independence, Johnson County Animal Shelter, Johnson County Seniors, Perry Senior Services and The Social of Greenwood.
How They Serve
Delta Theta Tau’s philanthropic legacy began in Muncie, Indiana, in October 1903 when five high school girls wanted to establish both a social and service-oriented group. It was also the first non-sectarian sorority. Today, it has 91 chapters scattered throughout the United States and Canada with their main concentration in the Midwest and Northwest. This year’s national convention was held in July in South Bend. The Theta Province includes chapters in Greenwood, Bloomington, Washington, Seymour and Linton. Its annual convention is usually held each fall in southern Indiana.
Current chapter president Tamara Hermesch came into Delta Theta Tau as a “legacy” since her mother and aunt were members since the l960s. “As a child, I was able to participate in some of their fundraising events and help in small ways. I saw how much the sorority meant to them, and I knew that when the time was right, I wanted to be a part of her group.” A job change brought Hermesch to the Indianapolis area where she transferred her membership in 1993 to the Nu Tau Chapter.
As president, Hermesch helps members with their assigned office or committee duties. She also secures the monthly meeting location and hostesses. “The nice thing about being president with this group of women is that everyone knows they have a job to do and are eager to complete it, which makes my job easier.”
Hermesch explained members have a designated organization they communicate with regularly to make sure Delta Theta Tau is meeting their current needs. “Often we will donate hours working for an organization, which is where the true meaning of ‘giving back’ can be seen.” She invites anyone interested in membership to contact her at email@example.com.
Delta Theta Tau, Nu Tau Chapter
Serving Center Grove, Greenwood, Perry and Franklin Townships
Artisan Holiday Market
- Saturday, November 26
- 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Beech Grove High School
- 5330 Hornet Ave., Beech Grove, IN